Saturday, 24 June 2017

Setting up a high school Climate Club

I have been helping students participate in a number of climate and weather-related activities for a few years now. These activities have included making regular cloud observations and uploading data to citizen science websites such as NASA's CloudSat project. 

Earlier this year myself and a colleague decided to consolidate the various activities we carry out into a Climate Club. This is a voluntary club for those students who are interested in learning more about the weather and climate science. It also aims to raise awareness around issues to do with climate change. This has particular relevance for my Thai students, since Thailand is identified as one of the top ten countries in the Long-Term Climate Risk Index.

Some of our Climate Club students enjoying a working lunch.

We currently have over twenty students who attend regularly, representing five out of six grade levels at my school. The club holds regular 'working lunches', where Climate Club members get to spend their lunch hour eating take-away instead of school dinners, and having fun, informal conversations around various climate-related topics. 

One of the regular items that has proved popular with students is a look at climate science-inspired art. This has included the Polarseeds project, where climate data has been used to create soundscapes, and Nathalie Miebach's art, where she creates sculptures based on weather data. This hopefully makes the club more accessible to students who may be less science-focused - moving from STEM to STEAM!

Students from the club regularly give presentations on topical climate-related issues for various events. For example, we recently held a videoconference with a scientist from NASA, where students presented on the likelihood of Thailand experiencing a La Nina event this year, as well as the implications for southeast Asia arising from the USA's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

One of the key aims for the club from my perspective has been to make it as student-led as possible. To this end we have created a number of student roles and responsibilities - president, project coordinator, data analysis coordinator etc. There are also teams within the club who will take the lead on different aspects, such as a data analysis team, to explore our school's weather station data, a graphic design team, who create posters, logos etc for the club, and a website design team, who will take the lead on the Club's website. Another aspect I was keen on was that students should get some kind of recognition for the time and effort they put into the club. Thus, the website will ultimately also provide a means for members to demonstrate the work they have engaged in with the Club when they apply to university. In addition, small groups of club members take on responsibility for organising the working lunches - setting the agenda, finding climate science art to share, and suggesting new avenues for the club to explore. 

Running the Climate Club has been proving to be a fun and rewarding experience, with lots of enthusiastic and positive feedback from our student members. It is my hope that by learning about climate science in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, these students will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges posed by climate change, but also some of the ways in which we can all do our bit to mitigate its worst effects.